The pilot of “V” was like watching a compilation reel of bits of a 2 hour movie compressed into 44 minutes. Although one review I read about the way the narrative threads were complied to introduce the aliens and set up the show complimented the technique, I found the introduction of the aliens and the way the world responded to be less than engaging - like eating a sandwich made of air.
Yeah, I know - it’s an old story - especially since this is a remake of the 1983 series - but who remembers that storyline? We do, I guess since we're only really given the thumbnails of this current story: Aliens come to Earth, offer miracles of technology, and like some old-timey hippie gurus with interstellar VW busses, promise nothing but love and prosperity for all mankind. And we for the most part buy into it.
So why spend any time setting any of that up, right? I mean, why not just cut to the chase and have the pretty Anna alien actress come out on stage before the episode opens and say "Once upon a time..."
Story notes from producers:
1) 5 minutes to intro revolving cast of characters in thumbnails of who they are and their issues. Each, of course, representing a different demographic so all will bond with them.
2) 5 minutes to show the impending arrival of the alien ships shaking a lot of liquids in cups (I could have done with a lot less than this and more actual story.)
3) 5 minutes to show everyone looking up in wonderment and fear until the pretty girl alien makes an announcement that they’re not going to blast out butts back into the stoneage and...we’re out.
The people on street who were looking all pensive even clapped to signal the end of that whirlwind sequence.
Cut to: A few weeks? months? later and now we’re all buddies and taking the alien express shuttlebus up to the mothership to take the grand tour and become indoctrinated to their wondrous technological achievements and love potions.
Thank God they set the parking brake on those ships hovering above the major cities because as fast as this story was moving, they could have slid right into next season when we’re probably going to have some alien-human hybrids or something similar who will split off and form their own series within a matter of five episodes of this one.
Nice. Cut. Got it. New deal. Moving on.
“V” isn’t horrible. It’s not great either. Like similar recent First Contact movies, I never felt like they got the setup scenario right of aliens visiting us. This one moves so quickly I really, honestly felt like someone had shot two hours and cut it back to one. Let’s not bore the audience with those tricky questions like how did these things get into our airspace without a major world alert and thousands of fighters being scrambled? Or, how did the governments of the world react to an invasion - that’s what it is, folks - an invasion, right? Or why weren’t there world-wide panics that destroyed the fabric of our societies? These are aliens, after all - creatures, no matter how pretty and charming, from another planet who posses tech that we can't even dream of. And everyone just opens their arms and says gimme a hug? Let's imagine how we'd treat an indigenous race that is far less superior to us. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Plus, you just gotta ask - hasn't anyone in this world ever seen any movies or TV? Don't they know about the thousands of shows that detail this sort of thing?
So by the end of the first 44 minutes, we know this:
- The aliens are benign.
- The aliens are not benign.
- They’ve actually been here for years and have been infiltrating our law enforcement, governments and Starbucks (probably.) Does this really make any sense that they just don’t kill us? No, but we’ll cover it by saying “they’re clever” and leave it at that.
- There is already a resistance of people trying to...what? That’s also not clear since it’s unlikely that the C4 they’ve gathered will make a major dent in those HUGE ships. Why has no one grabbed an alien, cut their skin off and posted the video on You Tube? Oh, wait - “Alien Autopsy” - they did! I get it now. No one believes the conspiracy nuts because the clever aliens probably seeded the Internet with wackos who no one could possibly believe and that has the effect of diminishing any actual conspiracy - or at least that would have been a nice sidebar to explore. Unfortunately, we had to spend the time that would have been “wasted” on story logic showing the pretty Anna alien (Morena Baccarin) casting (enigmatic) come-hither glances at the newscaster, equally pretty Scott Wolf.
- Aliens have cloned human skin over their reptilian skin and you can see it easily if you just cut them. I guess none of the V infiltrators ever got into an accident or cut their fingers slicing veggies in all the time they’ve been here. Lucky, huh? Yeah.
- There are nice aliens - ahhh - squishy lizards who like us (they really, really like us) and who will (deep breath and long exhalation) fall in deep, abiding love with hot, exotic-looking chicks and actually want to propose marriage. Gack!
I can’t say for sure that I’m going to watch any further. I’m sure there are many more fun surprises ahead as the storyline unrolls. My problem is I’m just not emotionally invested with any of these characters or their stories and there are enough holes to leave me cold toward continuing.
I always want the pilot of any series to rock. This one didn’t. When that happens, I tend not to give the series another look. But with “V” there was just enough good bits (including all the really pretty actors who did a credible job with this material) to make me ambivalent enough to perhaps give it one more shot.
Plus, did I mention all the hot alien babe eye-candy? Oohfah!
In the interim, well, let me tell the story of the American Revolution “V” style.
1) We don’t like King George.
2) We throw tea in the harbor.
3) We cross the Delaware in wooden boats.
4) We kick a** and win.
5) Cue national anthem at World Series games...
Kenneth Johnson (5 episodes, 2009-2010)
Scott Peters (5 episodes, 2009-2010)